Developers: Ubisoft Montpellier
Release Dates: November 15th, 2011 (Consoles), February 15th, 2012 (Vita), March 29th, 2012 (PC) June 8th 2012 (3DS)
Available on: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Playstation Vita. There may be some differences between versions.
I never got into Rayman as a kid. I remember my friend owning one of the games, I’d guess it was Rayman 3, on his computer but I never really cared for it. After disappearing for a while there was suddenly a long stretch where Rayman was all about minigames with the rabbids. Then one day I wake up to see a 2D Rayman game has suddenly become a critics darling and I’m really confused. Naturally I have to try it out.
Rayman Origins is not named so because it’s a prequel or reboot, but because it’s a return to the roots of the series. Rayman finds himself relaxing with Globox and his friends when they accidentally wake the livid dead. Because of this the livid dead put them in cages which they break out of right away and proceed to… adventure I guess? Following the introduction the plot pretty much just disappears and never really bothers to show up again. I didn’t really find it a huge loss though.
Rayman Origins is a 2D platformer that makes use of Rayman’s agile abilities. Throughout the game you’ll find yourself jumping from platform to platform, running on walls, swimming and more. There is some light fighting in the game, but it’s not nearly the focus. Instead your goal is collect Lumes and Electoons on each level. Lumes are similar to coins or rings in other platformers and you can get them just by touching them. The Lumes tend to be laid out in the path you want to take in the level, which helps with knowing when to jump off of walls or when to slide. Electoons are harder to get as each level only has 6 (or 3 in the SHMUP levels, but I’ll talk about that later). You always get one for finishing a level, then there’s two more that you can find hidden away into nooks and crannies around the levels. At first I found them a little tough to find but after a while I got used to hearing when they were nearby and spotting the secrets. There’s also two Electoons that are gotten by collecting a set amount of Lumes, which makes grabbing them all the more important. Finally there’s one for beating the level in a par time, though I must admit I never managed to get one of those in the time while I was playing (I also never really tried to get one of those).
If you collect enough Electoons then you can unlock each stage’s treasure chest level. These levels are a little different in that you spend it chasing a treasure chest. It requires you to stay right on it’s heals, using all your skills at the perfect time. This is much easier said than done, you’ll be repeating these stages a lot. Actually, that’s one of my biggest problems with the game. It feels like the treasure stages were made so you’d only know what would happen after it kills you the first time. Spikes out of the wall? How were you supposed to know they would appear there? Oh, this platform collapses? Guess you should have know that. Similar to the treasure stages are the boss fights. They all follow a pattern, but it feels like you’ll only learn the pattern by getting killed from it. One boss against a plant has a part where you need to jump off it’s back to the right of the plant. But you only know you need to jump to the right after you jump to the left first and the plant crushes you. How were you supposed to know the plant falls to it’s left? You don’t until it does.
Every now and again you get a level where you jump on the back of a mosquito and fly around shooting enemies. You can use basic shots or suck up and spit enemies at each other. Both ways work fine and there’s no real need to use one over the other. Sucking enemies up can actually be harmful since your controls get sluggish as long as you’re carrying an enemy around. The stages themselves are fun, and you can at least focus on flying and shooting rather than finding hidden Electoons.
The animations and graphical style of the game really should be mentioned. Rayman Origins is a beautiful game. Everything is done in a great style that looks fantastic in motion. It’s really a treat and worth playing to watch that. The soundtrack is also hilarious, making good use of vocals. All the music fits the various themes of the game.
Rayman Origins is a very enjoyable game. It falters a little with the treasure chest runs and boss fights, but there’s a ton of content here and it’s okay if it takes a few missteps. I haven’t played a 2D platformer in a while, but Rayman Origins was the perfect way to get back into the genre.